CNNMoney reports that showrunner Al Jean confirmed the decision via email. “As The Simpsons continues its 27th and 28th seasons, Harry Shearer will not be within the show,” Jean said.
There are those however, such as Simpsons co-creator James L. Brooks, who are holding out hope that all is not lost.
Fox renewed the show for two more seasons earlier this month.
In his own communication with CNNMoney, Shearer wrote, “In last four years, I’ve created and starred in a UK TV series and starred on London stage. Not stopping.”
Shearer, who remains prolific outside of the program, has previously had scheduling issues. The Simpsons Ride at the Universal Studios theme parks doesn’t feature any Shearer-voiced Simpsons characters due to his availability conflicts.
Jean has been communicating with fans about the situation on Twitter, where he has admitted to confusion about Shearer’s claims that he lacked the freedom to work on other projects. Jean has also assured fans that the characters Shearer voices—Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Otto, Lenny, Kang, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Hibbert, Rainier Wolfcastle, and God, among others—will not be killed off, but recast. “No yellow wedding,” he tweeted.
“We do not plan to ‘kill off’ his characters,” Jean confirmed to CNNMoney, “but replace them with the most talented members of the voice over community.”
On Twitter, Jean suggested that voice actors Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, and Tom Kenny might be potential replacements.
“We wish him well,” Jean said. “Maggie took it hard.”